Georgia football: 5 things I want to see during spring game
It’s time for a little football at Sanford Stadium again, and that’s always a good thing. G-Day is here, with the annual spring game scheduled for Saturday at 2 p.m. ET. A large crowd is expected, and the game will also be carried by the SEC Network.
Georgia is all about chasing titles — conference and national — these days under Kirby Smart, and that means getting a lot of quality work done in the spring. It’s been good, and Saturday is the cherry on top.
Here are five things I want to see in the 2019 spring game:
1. How well the running backs catch passes
With so much talent departed from the wide receiver position, it’s a given that the running backs will probably be more involved in the passing game this year. That’s no surprise, for a variety of reasons. New offense coordinator James Coley like a short passing attack, and he has a couple of great backs with hands.
D’Andre Swift already has proven in two years that he can be a huge threat out of the backfield, and sophomore-to-be James Cook might be just as good. We can’t expect to see a lot of new looks in a spring game — why put anything on film? — but it would be nice to see the backs catch everything thrown their way.
2. What, if any, surprises will we see from Coley’s offense
As we just mentioned, we can’t expect to see a lot of new stuff in a spring game, but with a new offensive coordinator, some things are bound to sneak through. They’ve been working on things for a month, so we’re bound to see a few things that make us smile.
It’s going to be interesting to pay attention to lineup groupings. How often will we see two tight-end sets? Or three or four receiver sets? It’s going to be interesting to see what Coley has in store.
3. How talented are the quarterbacks behind Jake Fromm
We all know that Jake Fromm is a great quarterback, and he’s certainly good enough to put Georgia in national title contention next year. But there’s still reason to be concerned about the position, because there is no experience behind Fromm.
When former 5-star recruit Justin Fields transferred to Ohio State in the offseason, all that was left behind Fromm was true freshman Dwan Mathis, who thankfully enrolled in January, and Stetson Bennett, who’s back in Athens after a year in junior college.
Everyone seems to be happy with Mathis’ progress as he learns the playbook and shows off his athletic skills. It will be good to see him live action Saturday.
4. How will the offensive line battles shake out
Ben Cleveland is back on the field and looking good, and that’s a good thing for Georgia’s offensive line. It’s the position group that’s most responsible for helping the Bulldogs get to the promised land, and with Cleveland back in the mix after a broken leg, this group should be really good.
Georgia probably has eight legitimate starters on the O-line, and many of them can play several positions. We aren’t going to learn anything about final combinations for the fall now, but it will be interesting to see who plays where, how well, and how often.
Cleveland is 100 percent and should lock down a guard spot. He’s been a beast in the weight room again and has been dominating spring practices.
“Ben is a competitive guy, he works hard every day and gets after it,” Georgia defensive lineman Justin Young said earlier this week. “Ben is massive. Once he gets his hands on you, it’s basically over with.”
5. Which new faces are going to emerge on defense
The benefit of back-to-back great recruiting classes is that there’s a ton of talent on the practice fields these days. There are plenty of guys who are ready to step up on defense, and we might start to see some of that Saturday.
Linebacker Nate McBride has been making a lot of noise this spring and he looks ready to be a contributor. Sophomores Quay Walker and Channing Tindall showed flashes in key moments as freshman and both plan on being stars. Saturday might be a first glimpse of heading in that direction. Even injury-riddled defensive end Justin Young has looked good all spring and should be ready to show something. It’s going to be a good day to get some questions answered.